Friday, August 2, 2013

Teen angst meets trickster gods? That's just asking for trouble...

I had high hopes for this digital ARC (advance reading copy), obtained through Netgalley. The premise sounded amazing: set in modern times, ancient gods were awakened and are a constant threat. Only through the intervention of a small group of people, the Society, and the relics they weild, are the gods and their interfering magic under any sort of control...and that’s all I read before I was intrigued enough to request the ARC. It sounded very Rick Riordan meets Warehouse 13, and I really wanted to check it out. 

The day the gods awoke - no one’s sure how or why that happened - Kyra was forgotten by her parents. While other kids were picked up at school by tearful and frightened adults, Kyra was left alone on the school steps until she finally gave up and walked home, getting lost more than once, to find an empty house awaiting her. Ever since that day Kyra has assumed this was her lot in life: to be the unimportant one, the one who gets left behind.

Soon after that day her mother went mad and her father, a librarian, became even more distant and absorbed in his work. Kyra has done everything she can think of, even staying out all night, to get his attention, but he doesn’t even seem to notice. Coming home in the early hours one morning she’s surprised to find him at home, and even more surprised when he actually seems to have been waiting for her. He’s not angry, but...odd. He tells her that if anything should happen to him she’s to take all the money in the house and run. Then he leaves her - again - for his work. 

This odd conversation with her father is just the start of events that will turn Kyra’s world upside down and inside out. She will discover family secrets that shake her to the core. She will meet gods and tricksters. She will drag her friends, old and new, into schemes and adventures. And she will uncover a plot within the Society that could end the world - one that only she can stop.

The Woken Gods has a lot of potential, but also quite a bit of overwhelming info dump, primarily at the beginning. Instead of world building naturally over the course of the narrative, the first third of the novel gives the reader the back story of the awakening as well as the critical stages of character development. For me it was confusing, and it simply didn't flow well. Once the preliminary groundwork of the plot had been laid and the alternative history set, however, the novel evened out and became very interesting indeed. There were still a few unusual and jarring moments, but overall the remainder proved to be an entertaining tale. 

The ending of The Woken Gods isn’t really “The End” but sets us up for at least one sequel, if not a multi-book series. I’m not overly invested in this tale, but may check out book two just to see what happens.  The author’s first novel, Blackwood, has been picked up by MTV as a series, so I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from Gwenda Bond

Note: This review is based on an Advance Reader's Copy, and editing may still be done before this book is published. All of the comments above should therefore take this into account. 

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